Avocado Chocolate Pots

Given that it’s Meat Free Week and this is Meat Free Manchester I have decided to up my game and do a recipe a day to help out anyone who’s giving vegetarianism or veganism a go for the first time. Granted, this particular recipe might not help you out in terms of Tuesday night tea but there is a lot of hype surrounding these (if you’ve been watching Masterchef you’ll know what I’m talking about) and I had to give it a go. Regardless they are a bit of fun and crazyily straightforward and surprisingly tasty – my meat-eating friend even enjoyed them!

I present to you the Avocado Chocolate Pot! This made two espresso pot sized desserts (2 servings)

Ingredients

2 small avocados or 1 big one – make sure they’re ripe but not too ripe.

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

About 1 tablespoon of cocoa

A slash of non-dairy milk (I used soya)

A squeeze of agave nectar

Method

Basically use some common sense for this recipe. I scooped out the avocado first and then by eye added the rest of the ingredients. To start just add a little cocoa / agave nectar / milk and blitz until smooth. You can then add more of whichever you need depending on how chocolatey / sweet / solid it is respectively.

Once you are happy with the proportions and taste put in little serving pots – espresso pots work really well. Then chill in the fridge.

To serve I grated some dark chocolate on the top for a bit of fancy J

 

Sorry for the lack of photos; me and my friend ate them before I had chance to get my phone out, they basically looked like chocolate pots though!

 

 

 

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Roasted Veg and Butter Bean Pâté

After a couple of distinctly non-vegan weeks (which included a cake sale, baking cookery course and a cheese & wine evening) I made a concerted effort get back into my mainly vegan ways last week – for my waistline if nothing else! One evening after my tea I decided I would roast a load of veg (peppers, onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes) along with some oregano and paprika (no oil) for my tea the following evening – I was planning on going to the gym so the more prepared I was the better. Now, traditionally I would have my roasted veg in a pitta with loads of hummus but this wouldn’t exactly work for my low fat meal plan. I peered my cupboard and spotted a small tin of butter beans – I would make my own creamy low fat accompaniment.

This is the meal that followed; Roasted Veg with Pitta bread and Butter Bean Pâté

Roasted Veg

I’m not going to insult you, you know how to roast veg…..get some veg (whatever you have), add heat!

Butter Bean Pâté

210g Butter Beans (a small tin) – other beans would probably work too. Whizz up the butter beans, I used a hand blender, crush a smallish clove of garlic and mix in, add lemon juice and mix, season with salt and pepper. Adjust the levels of lemon juice, seasoning and garlic to your taste. You could also add some chilli or herbs if you fancy it.

Toast a Pitta

Eat – your super low fat, tasty, creamy, zingy, vegan, garlicky, fresh, yummy tea!!

I haven’t tried this but if you wanted to I guess you could warm up your pâté and it would be more like a mash, give it a go and let me know if it works.

20150317_202202My veg look a little burnt in the photo but I promise they weren’t, oh and I added olives! Sorry for the omission! 🙂

 

Chickpea, Couscous, Apricot, Pistachio and lots of other tasty things Salad

I started a new job this week and yesterday the whole office took part in a shared lunch. This was no ordinary office shared lunch, my new colleagues are foodies!

A list was left in the office kitchen for everyone to write their contributions on, this way there wouldn’t be too much of the same food, a quick glance showed a huge variety of inventive and exciting dishes that ranged from mini calzones to filo parcels to pumpkin cake. The pressure was on and I was keen to make a good first impression, especially as word had got round about this blog! After a closer inspection of the list I figured a salad would be a good addition but as I say it needed to be impressive. When I got home I was immediately drawn to Veggiestan by Sally Butcher, I knew there would be some interesting salads in there…..I settled on Spinach, Apricot and Bulghar Wheat Salad.

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The following recipe is based loosely on this, it would have been an exact copy but as I decided to try and buy the ingredients from my little local supermarket at 8pm on Tuesday night I had to make a number of adjustments.

I have to say though the finished product was yummy and it all got eaten J

Makes a big sharing portion, probably enough for 10 as a side

Salad Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas

Apple juice (optional)

1 sachet of lemon and coriander couscous (I only used this because I couldn’t get plain)

1 big or 2 small carrots

1 small bag of spinach

½ red onion

150g dried apricots

1 bunch each of parsley and coriander

75g unslated/shelled pistachios

For the dressing

Olive oil, 1 lime, Cumin, Chilli flakes and Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Drain the chickpeas and put in a saucepan, cover with 50/50 water and apple juice until just covered. Put on a medium heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Drain and cool. This step is probably optional but I like to make sure my chickpeas are really soft and the original recipe calls for the bulghur wheat to be cooked in apple juice.
  2. Roughly chop the apricots, cover in warm water and leave to soften up for about 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions. If you are using plain couscous make up about 110g and you might want to use vegetable stock.
  4. Shred the spinach, finely dice the onion and grate the carrot(s) and throw in a big serving dish or Tupperware (if taking to work). Sprinkle over the nuts.
  5. Chop the herbs and add to the veg and nuts.
  6. Grate the zest of the lime into a jug, add the juice and top up with twice as much oil. Stir in 1 teaspoon each of cumin and chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper.
  7. When the chickpeas and couscous are cool add to the bowl/tub. Drain the apricots and add to the mix – give it all a big stir at this point to combine everything.
  8. Finally pour over the dressing (I didn’t use the full amount so add a bit at a time and make a judgement)
  9. Stir again and serve or stick it in the fridge and don’t forget to pick it up on the way to work!

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Avocado Pasta Sauce

This weekend I was visiting my Dad and Step-mum in London so didn’t do any cooking (lots of eating though!) so when I got home late yesterday evening I had an urge to get in the kitchen.

My fridge was surprisingly well stocked and included a very squishy avocado – this would have to be the base of my meal. Below is the recipe that followed, it was delicious! However, I made a rather stupid mistake of blitzing the sauce in a thin plastic tub with a raised bottom, this resulted in a few splinters of plastic ending up in my finished dish. I ate it anyway but in case you’re as idiotic as me here’s a warning: make sure you use a normal bowl or something – basically anything that isn’t going to get chopped up by your hand blender! I blame tiredness!

Serves one

Ingredients

Pasta – whatever size or shape you have. To measure, I always fill my serving bowl half way up with the dried pasta (it just about doubles in size when cooked)

½ Red pepper – this addition is inspired by @drunkenbutcher’s Macaroni cheese (see last post)

1 Avocado – by the time I’d cut the brown/black bits off I probably had ¾ avocado so I reckon you could stretch a full one to serve 2

1 small clove of Garlic – this will be raw in the finished dish so adjust according to taste

1 tablespoon (ish) of olive oil

Splash/squeeze of lemon juice – again, to taste

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Boil a large pan of water and add a good amount of salt (apparently the water should be as salty as tears 😥 ), cook the pasta according to the packet instructions – about 10 minutes usually
  2. Finely dice the red pepper, heat a separate pan and sauté in a blob of vegan margarine. You just want this to sizzle away to soften and sweeten without colouring
  3. Crush the garlic and mix with the olive oil. I used a pestle and mortar but you can use a garlic crusher, a really fine grater or a knife on a chopping board
  4. Put the garlic, oil and avocado into a suitable bowl and use a hand blender to mix to a smooth paste. This could also be done in a food processor and potentially by hand in a pestle and mortar
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Taste at this point and add more lemon or garlic or seasoning
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a splash of the cooking water – this will help to thin the sauce
  7. Mix the avocado sauce and softened red peppers in with the pasta and loosen the sauce with as much or as little cooking water as you want. Serve!

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The Drunken Butcher’s Vegetarian Supper Club

This time last week I was in a stranger’s house with 8 or 9 other strangers filling my face with some delicious vegetarian grub, cocktails and shots of Jim Beam…. courtesy of Iain aka The Drunken Butcher and The University of Manchester Foodies Group, this was my first supper club:

First up was our complimentary cocktail; a Martini complete with green olive. Whilst we got to know each other and waited for the rest of the group to arrive Iain (@drunkenbutcher) would keep us up to date with what he was doing and answer any questions we had. It was interesting to hear about his life and how he had ended up doing these supper clubs – mainly because I would love to see myself doing them one day.

We watched Iain prepare the veg for the celery and celeriac soup and were given various tips; from where to buy the best knives to hints on preparing celery for a salad. His ability to multi-task was impressive as he juggled sautéing the base for the soup, with boiling pasta, with chopping peppers and god knows what else was going on in the kitchen.

The food was served as it was ready – no real set course pattern. Each dish was put in the middle of the table and we served ourselves, I think this is always the best way to do it and as Iain reminded us, this was a supper club – not fine dining.

First we had macaroni cheese – the cheese sauce was made with soft cream cheese rather than lots of hard cheddar which meant it stayed lovely and saucy rather than setting solid. The topping was made with a mix of grated cheddar and breadcrumbs. To add further flavour and texture and to cut through the rich cheese sauce it was served with softened red peppers and chillies (initially Iain meant to stir this through but forgot so it was served on the side – this kind of added to the charm of the night). Needless to say the whole dish was delicious – so creamy and indulgent!

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Next up was mushroom risotto. Iain is lucky enough to be married to a Finn (I think?!) and shortly after we arrived he presented the hoards of wild mushrooms which his mother-in-law had recently sent over from the forests near her home. Together with some regular button mushrooms they made a flavourful risotto which was enhanced with the ‘stock’ from soaking the wild mushrooms. Celery tops were chopped and stirred in at the last minute to add a hint of freshness too.

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Last of the savoury dishes was the celery and celeriac soup, I’d never had celeriac that I could remember but it was really tasty even though my stomach was already about to burst at this point. Chunky croutons topped with parmesan added a nice crunch.

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All the while we were eating Iain would keep us updated with what was going on in the kitchen. He often came and took a general vote of our preferences too so that he could tailor the meal, ‘do you want the brownie really gooey or more cakey’ – of course we said gooey! And although the price of the ticket (£25) only included the cocktail at the start of the night, Iain regularly offered us a beer or a shot of his favourite, Jim Beam. I declined on the beer but couldn’t resist a couple of shots!

After a little break pudding was served – chocolate brownie with cherries and peanuts served with an orange sorbet and a Jim Beam custard. The brownie was, as promised, soft and gooey. The addition of peanuts and cherries was a great idea too. The sorbet was refreshing and the custard was sweet and caramelly from the bourbon.

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By the end I was painfully full! We had been advised to bring Tupperware, I think we all forgot, but if we had there would have been plenty to take home.

Overall for my first supper club I thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was delicious and it was nice to meet some fellow foodies. I think next time I’d like to go on a weekend night when it might be more of a party atmosphere. I was also left feeling very un-vegan! Iain is actually doing a vegan night tonight so I think next time there’s a vegan one I’d love to try that!

So despite his name, The Drunken Butcher really can cook a vegetarian feast and I would definitely recommend his Supper Club to anyone looking for some good cooking and excellent grub.

To find out more about The Drunken Butcher and his upcoming events find his website here http://thedrunkenbutcher.co.uk/

Red lentil and vegetable soup

Lentil soup is my absolute favourite. I used to make it with my dad when I was younger and we’d have it on cold winter evenings, sat next to the coal fire, after a chilly walk around Easby Abbey. My dad’s version wasn’t much like the one I make now (apart from the lentils); we always kept it more like a broth with lots of chunky veg. When I came to uni I decided to blend it and now I always do, it makes the soup really creamy without adding anything naughty. Sometimes I add some spice (cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, chilli etc) but I think I prefer it without.

This recipe makes about 2 servings

Ingredients

A splash of oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 peeled carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 bay leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Red lentils – I have never weighed them but probably around 100g

2 stock cubes dissolved in 500ml of boiling water

Method

  1. Dice the onion, carrots and celery into small (1cm) cubes and finely slice the garlic
  2. In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the chopped veg
  3. Add the bay leaves and black pepper and sweat for 5 – 10 minutes until the carrots are starting to soften – don’t brown
  4. Add the lentils – there should be enough just to lightly coat the veg. Stir for around 1 minute – careful the lentils might stick to the bottom of the pan!
  5. Add the stock and top up with enough water to cover all the veg  and lentils
  6. Leave to simmer for around 20 minutes, until the carrots are soft and the lentils are cooked – you may need to keep topping up with water.
  7. Bring it off of the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, FISH OUT THE BAY LEAVES, and blend until smooth. Add more water if too thick and season if required

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Chilli Non Carne

So I’m sure most people can make a bean chilli but I thought I’d share my recipe. When I say ‘my recipe’ it suggests I follow a strict method every time I make it, I definitely don’t! Regardless, this is what I made tonight, it’s still bubbling away but it looks hot and tasty and should keep me warm and satisfied for the whole weekend!

Ingredients

Splash of oil – I used normal olive oil but you could use any cooking oil; sunflower, vegetable or even coconut if you’re fancy!

1 onion – I used red tonight, my preference would be white but I buy them in multipacks from Aldi and I’m not gonna buy a bag of white and red onions each week! There’s only so many onions a girl can use.

2 peppers – I always like to include a green, mainly because I know that’s the one that will be left in the fridge out of my 3 pack if I don’t and also the slight bitterness goes well in a chilli, I also used a yellow

About 5 medium-sized mushrooms – I don’t always add these but had a craving tonight and they add an earthy note that I guess makes it a bit ‘meaty’ (I wouldn’t really know!)

2 – 3 cloves of garlic – mmmmmm garlic!

A fair bit of dried oregano and paprika if you have it (smoked paprika would be best)

A sprinkling of frozen/tinned sweetcorn – or fresh (again if you’re fancy!)

1 tin of kidney beans

1 tin of borlotti beans – I don’t usually use these but I have a new-found love for them so they’re going in!

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

Ok so controversial bit of the recipe….. Instead of fresh chilli or chilli powder I used Sriracha hot chilli sauce – firstly because I have neither of the aforementioned and secondly I love Sriracha and thirdly I didn’t want it to be too spicy – I’m going to be eating this on a hangover and I can’t be dealing with too much spice. Basically use whatever you want here to add as much or as little spice as you want!

Method

  1. Chop the onion, peppers and mushrooms into whatever size chunks you wants – I like sort of 1cm cubes
  2. Sauté the veg in a large pan in the splash of oil, finely chop the garlic and add (this is where you would add fresh chilli)
  3. When the veg is soft and starting to go a bit brown add the sweetcorn, paprika and oregano
  4. Follow with the tins of beans (drained) and tomatoes
  5. If you are using hot sauce stir in now and leave to simmer from anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour
  6. Once it’s looking thick and amalgamated have a taste and add seasoning and maybe more spice if it needs it
  7. I’m going to serve with brown rice and my new favourite vegan alternative – soya yoghurt. I’m waiting until tomorrow though by which time my chilli non carne should have had time to sit and get even tastier

How do you make your chilli?!

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